Since December 2016, the political trajectory of The Gambia has changed tremendously after our new-found freedom from 22 years of oppression and brutality from the former regime. Sadly, Gambians have forgotten the principles that brought us together to put an end to all forms of “dirty politics”, as we called it and work together towards the “common good” as enshrined in our national anthem. Ironically, from 2017 to date, no meaningful political action has been seen in The Gambia.
For many people, politics in The Gambia is about parochial interests like ethnicity, regionalism or what they can get from it instead of considering the national interest.
It sounds stupid for people to still say that certain people will not lead the country, despite their experience in government. Surprisingly, most people are loyalists of parties and not the country. Most Gambians are not really concerned about who will bring development to their doorsteps or whether the person has the interest of the country. What they are more concerned about is whether the president is from their party.
The untimely death of coalition 2016 and the tactical alliance, is all as a result of divisive politics and the pursuit of individual goals. This is what became the order of the day in the “New Gambia”. As if that is not enough, instead of talking about their parties policies and programmes, politicians in The Gambia are bent on assassinating each other’s characters at rallies across the country, on social media platforms or through leaked audios. This has painted a very bad image of the country to the international community. No serious government or international organisation will take The Gambia seriously, when the country is focused on personal attacks instead of capacity building of the citizenry, ensuring good governance, job creation, health, agriculture and security reforms, among other relevant issues.
Up to date, the unemployment rate in The Gambia is alarming with thousands of people graduating from higher institutions with no jobs and the few that have jobs are not well-paid. Which should be a very big concern for every serious country. Take a look at our health sector, The Gambia is still battling poor health care systems with few hospital beds, insufficient blood in our blood bank and lack of enough medicine for those who need it in public hospitals. To support this statement, many young women of our beloved nation lost their lives as a result of the country’s poor health care system. This is something that our leaders must understand. For any meaningful development to take place, citizens must be given the health care services, which is not a privilege, but a right.
After 54 years of independence, as a serious country, we are still talking about how to transform the agricultural sector despite the fact that we claimed that agriculture is the backbone of the country’s economy. The Gambia still imports rice and other staple foods. Our farmers are crying year-in, year-out over poor storage facilities for their agricultural produce, lack of fertilisers and good markets and good prices to put an end to their sufferings.
How serious is The Gambia about economic growth? Tourism sector is redundant, with no innovation at all, management or renovation of historical sites to attract tourists, even though we believe that the tourism sector of the country contributes to over 30 percent of the Gambia’s GDP. When other West African countries are focusing on how to boost their economy, our political leaders are spending a lot of their time and public funds on things that are of no use for the country.
We must look within ourselves and ask, if we are truly truthful to ourselves and our country. We must direct our attention to our common goals and move together as one nation to the promised land. It is high time that Gambian politicians move from politics of defamation to politics of development.
Criticism is said to be the life blood of a vibrant democracy, however, criticism should be constructive. Only constructive criticism can yield development and serve as a check on those holding public offices for our national interest. Let us always remember that history will judge our every move.
and Nyima Bah